JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A man who once served time in prison for sex crimes has become the new pastor of Mount Ararat Baptist Church in Jacksonville, and some said they’re concerned that he’s leading the congregation.
The Rev. Darrell Gilyard admitted to molesting two girls and was sentenced to three years in prison in 2009 followed by probation. He’s currently a registered sex offender in the state of Florida.
Lynn Jones, an editor for the Jacksonville Free Press, said she received calls of concern about Gilyard being installed.
“Our phones were ringing off the hook,” Jones said. “Members of Mount Ararat -- they were totally upset, and a lot of them are our subscribers.”
When he left prison in 2012, Gilyard first began preaching at Christ Missionary Tabernacle Baptist Church, which also made some upset.
After Gilyard became the new lead pastor at Mount Ararat Baptist Church, some people posted their concerns on the church’s Facebook page.
Tiffany Thigpen Kilgannon, who said she was a victim, wrote in short:
" ...God doesn’t need predators in the pulpit, no matter how great a speaker or the truth of God’s word being spoken..."
She continued, “...Please keep your young girls and ladies safe. It is a painful thing to recover from, give them the gift of safety...”
News4Jax visited Mount Ararat to talk with Rev. Gilyard. A staff member said, “No comment.”
Speaking to News4Jax by phone, James Andrews, one of Gilyard’s long-time supporters, said he trusts Gilyard.
“I was certainly disappointed, but I prayed about it like it try to do about everything, and I forgave him,” Andrews said.
When asked if he’d fell comfortable trusting Gilyard around his children, Andrews responded:
“Yes I would. I wouldn’t have any problems at all trusting Pastor Gilyard around children.”
Video posted with an investigative report by the Houston Chronicle, shows Gilyard apologizing for misconduct but doesn’t given any other details. He was not charged in cases in the southwest.
“I stand before you tonight a broken man to confess that in the past I have sinned against God, against my family and before you,” Gilyard is heard saying.
There were other accusations in Texas and Oklahoma, but Gilyard was not arrested.
Although Gilyard is a registered sex offender, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement told News4Jax that Gilyard is not on probation and can work wherever he wants to. The church is across from Stanton College Preparatory School, but Gilyard is not in violation of any laws by having a job near a school.